Buttiri was born in Rovigno, Austrian Empire (present-day Rovinj, Istria, Croatia), on 8 May 1908, as one of nine children born to Italian parents Luigi and Orsola Buttiri. During the First World War, she and her parents, along with four brothers and two sisters, fled to a camp near Vienna, where they stayed for three years. She studied in the camp and, after the war, in Rovigno and Florence, Italy.
While living in Croatia, she worked in a restaurant, a bakery and another store before the Second World War forced her to leave the country. The family moved to a camp outside Napoli (Italy). A month after arriving, she boarded a ship for Canada. She had to leave her family behind, except for her niece, Angela, who accompanied her to Canada. In January 1942, after 12 days on the ship, they arrived to Canada. Buttiri stayed with her host family for nine months, getting a job sewing for textile companies. She continued sewing for various companies for over three decades. She never married nor had children.
Buttiri passed away in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on 23 June 2020, at the age of 112 years, 46 days.